Sep 22, 2014

Southeastern Style Pork Stew Using Galangal, Kaffir Lime Leaves, and Lemon Grass

The recipe posts from the past three weeks have all been western food related dishes - oven roasted sword fish fillet, ravioli with sage brown butter sauce, and summer salad with watermelon and feta. Needless to say, it's about time for a comforting and rice-perfect Asian recipe. This Southeastern style pork stew has a sourish taste from the tomatoes, sweetness from palm sugar, and a slightly spicy kick from the dangerous red chilies. Let's get cookin'!

Southeastern style pork stew using galangal, Kaffir lime leaves, and lemon grass -


  • 1.5 lbs of semi-fatty pork chunks
  • 2 big ripe tomatoes
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of chicken soup
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 big bundle of shallot
  • 8 pieces of dried Kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 pieces of dried galangal
  • 2 red chilies
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons of dried lemon grass
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper
  • Some chopped scallion (for garnish)


Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the pork chunks. The foamy brownish/grayish bits will start to emerge, takes about 3 minutes. Drain well and set aside for later use. This step helps eliminating odors and removing dirty bits that can cause unpleasant bitterness taste for the stew. 

Peel and give the garlic cloves a few chops. Peel and slice the shallots. Discard the stems and finely chop the red chilies. Dice the fresh tomatoes.

Take a big non-stick pot and drizzle enough oil to evenly coat the bottom. Turn to medium heat and add in the garlic, shallots, chilies along with some salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir. Cook till the shallots turned slightly browned but not burning the garlic pieces.

Add in the pork and sear for about 2 minutes then add in fresh diced tomatoes. Cook for another 2 minutes.

Turn up the heat and add in all the remaining ingredients. For the dried herbs, I had a circular container with tiny holes, designed to keep the seasonings and herbs intact when used in soup or stew dishes. Otherwise you might want to wrap the lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaves, and star anise using a cloth and tide up with twine. 

Bring to a boil and lower the heat a little to keep it bubbling gently. Make sure to scoop out any floating foamy bits, especially during the first hour of simmering. Let it cook for around 2.5 hours or until nearly all the juice has been reduced.

Sprinkle with some chopped scallion before serving. You must have steamed rice to go along with this pork stew. Otherwise, have some bread at least.

Sep 16, 2014

Oven Roasted Sword Fish Fillet with Smoked Paprika Infused Garlic Aioli Sauce

It's a versatile recipe that you can swap out the main ingredients at your own preference. The sword fish fillet can be substitute with other types of hearty fish such as salmon and tuna. As for the roasted vegetables, instead of the cauliflower and carrot, you can swap with broccoli, zucchini, pearl onions, etc. However, try to keep the pumpkin because its warming sweetness can further compliment the seafood, the aroma also pairs well with smoked paprika used in the aioli sauce.

Oven roasted sword fish fillet with smoked paprika infused garlic aioli sauce -

Ingredients (3 to 4 portions)?

  • 3 to 4 medium thickness sword fish fillet (or other hearty fish)
  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 1 medium sized carrot
  • 1 big slice pumpkin
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 lime
  • Some parsley
  • Some olive oil
  • Some sea salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with foil. Chop the cauliflower, pumpkin, and carrot into medium size cubes and move to the baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil throughout and sprinkle over some salt and pepper. Also use half of the lemon juice and evenly pour over the veggies. 

Into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or till the tips of the cauliflower turns slightly golden browned. You can check if the veggies are ready by poking a fork into the center of the pumpkin cube. It should be fairly easy to do so without much resistant, unless a harder texture is preferred. Once ready, remove from heat and lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper over the fish fillet. Transfer onto another baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes, or till desired rareness. The fillet used here took about 12 minutes and was just about well done. 

In the meantime, peel and give the garlic cloves a few chops, add to the food processor. Also add the mayonnaise, smoked paprika, olive oil and start blending. If the processor doesn't blend, just pour a little bit more oil to get it going. The mixing action can separate the oil and fatty content from the mayo, but I do like such liquid form sauce for my fish fillet. 

You can also finely chop the garlic and simply mix all the sauce ingredients with less amount of olive oil in a small bowl. By doing so, you'll get a more mayo-like consistency for the aioli sauce. Again, it's a very flexible recipe and you can always twist the process based on what you want.

Remove the fillets from heat once done. Arrange some roasted veggies onto the plate, top with fish fillet, drizzle some aioli sauce all over, sprinkle some finely chopped parsley for fresh herbal aroma and color pop. Last two steps, drizzle some balsamic vinegar on the veggies and add a slice of lime on the side. 

If you didn't blend the mayo, simply drop a dollop of aioli sauce on the side and put the lime wedge over.

Easy prep and no fuss cleaning recipe. For a less garlicky version, roast the garlic together with the vegetables. Use those cooked cloves to blend with the mayo to make the aioli sauce instead. 

Sep 10, 2014

Spinach....Not! Taiwanese Arden Lettuce and Ricotta Ravioli Served in Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Once a while when I get a full day off without worrying about work and other miscellaneous stuff in life, I'd like to prepare some make ahead food and store them in the freezer. Meat balls, dumplings, chicken stock, homemade pasta, etc. It's quite therapeutic working in the kitchen at a slower pace. Sipping a cup of tea, chopping, kneading, taking food pictures, and of course, with music playing in the background. 

Make ahead recipe can also save a lot of hassles down the road, especially when busy schedule creeps in, preventing you from having a comforting homemade meal. This ravioli recipe can be prepared and stored in the fridge up to months. You can simply cook the ravioli in boiling water for few minutes and pop them in either brown butter or pomodoro sauce. A homemade meal can be done in 10 minutes even leaving you plenty of time to grate the cheese.

Ingredients for ravioli (makes about 50)?

  • 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 4 eggs

  • 3 bundles of arden lettuce or 4 bundles of spinach
  • 2 cups/450 grams of ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Small pinch of black pepper

Ingredients for sage brown butter sauce (for 2 portions)?

  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 sprig of sage 
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Some grated Parmigiano Reggiano


Simply use the stainless steel bowl from the mixer, add in the flour and try to leave an empty hole in the center. Add the eggs to the center and mix together with the flour using a fork, just blend a little bit. Lastly, turn on the machine and blend till fully incorporated. That's the basic dough for the ravioli. 

Form the dough into few smaller balls and use a pasta machine to shape them into 1/8 inch pasta sheets.

I couldn't find spinach so used Taiwanese arden lettuce (A菜) as a substitute. Of course spinach works the best and is the most classic ingredient for this recipe. Cook the green vegetable in boiling water seasoned with a little bit of salt. Cook till wilted. Drain well and soak in cold water filled with ice cubes. Once cools down, drain well and squeeze dry with a towel, leaving no moisture if possible. 

Chop the vegetable into fine pieces or blend in food processor, transfer to a big bowl. Also add in the ricotta cheese, egg, heavy cream, Parmigiano, nutmeg, black pepper, and 1/2 tablespoon of salt. Mix well.

Lay one ravioli sheet on a floured surface. Use a smaller spoon and scoop the filling mixture onto the sheet, leaving some space in between. Take another sheet and fold over gently, seal the edges with your finger and cut into individual squares. Use the tines of a fork to press down the edges of each individual ravioli. 

I freeze each ravioli un-stacked on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in the freezer. Wait for about 30 minutes or till hardened. This will prevent the ravioli from sticking to each other. Once ready, I separate the ravioli in 2 to 3 batches and store in Ziploc bags. The ravioli should stay fresh up to 6 months in the freezer. You can also sprinkle some cornmeal throughout to prevent from sticking.

As for the ravioli that will be devoured right away, prepare a pot of salted boiling water and cook the ravioli till flow up to the surface. If cooking frozen ravioli, cook for about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Here's the recipe for simple sage brown butter sauce:

Heat up the butter in a skillet. Add in sage, nutmeg and cook for 2 minutes in medium heat. The sage leaves will become crunchy and resembles a crumbling texture. Add in cooked and drained ravioli, mix well and transfer onto a serving plate.

Garnish with sage leaves and top with generous amount of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. I forgot to add the cheese in the beginning but glad I finally realized something was missing when I still have 2 ravioli left on my plate.

Make sure to use good quality Parmigiano Reggiano instead of pre-grated Parmesan cheese.